It’s hard being a girl. We’re constantly being marketed at, but very rarely in ways that make us feel represented. It’s refreshing to see companies taking a stance on this and working together to improve and eradicate female stereotypesand they’re starting with stock photography.

We need to talk about stock

Stock photographylove it or hate, we can guarantee all marketers have used it. We all know the struggle of searching through a library of what seems like never-ending ridiculous, staged, just downright awful photos. It can be a struggle to find stock photography that works (here’s some advice we’ve put together on how to make the most of what’s available).

An excellent example of just how ridiculous stock photography can be is this video Emilia Clarke, post-Game of Thrones. Who knew she would find a new lease of life as Barbara the businesswoman posing for stock business photography? But Barbara the businesswomen is exactly what we’re here to discuss. How many times have you searched for “woman” on a stock library to be faced with images of scantily clad, predominantly white women with perfect hair and perfect bodies? Exactly. Yes, they’re not all horribly staged, but the underlying problem remains the samewhy isn’t there more diverse representation in stock?

Photography for us, by us

Lack of representation isn’t a new topicit’s something we’ve covered numerous times throughout our blog. What we’re most interested to see is not the companies that are getting it wrong, but the companies that are getting it right.

The advertising industry is trying to improve and create marketing materials that are representative of all of usbut it’s been a bit of a slow burn. The collaboration between Lean In and Getty Images was an interesting one, but never seemed to really take off. The widespread calls for photoshop to be banned in advertising seem to be gaining traction, and many companies have agreed to introduce new rules for photography.

A new campaign, #ShowUs, from Dove,Getty Images and Girl Gaze appears to be an update to the Lean In/Getty Images collaboration of the pastbut this time it looks as if there’s more support and, perhaps thanks to the cultural zeitgeist, more acceptance of the need for change.   

The idea is simple: take a group of women that represent a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, shapes and sizes and have them photographed by female photographers. That’s it. These photos are then shared on a stock library with no digital alterationsavailable to everyone (for a fee). So far, the project has generated over 5,000 photos, and the library has been used by 900 global companies.

More diversity please

It’s not just women that have suffered from poor representation in stock photography and advertising. The Gender Spectrum Collection was created to provide better representation for the trans and non-binary community. Similar to #ShowUs, this collection is made up of photographs taken by members of the community, featuring real trans and non-binary people, available for anyone to use.

These two campaigns sound simple enough but they could have a huge impact in advertising. Too many times we’ll have comments from clients like “we love the image, but can you find one with a little more diversity?” Often, the answer is no, we’re limited by what’s available and not every campaign has the budget for a photo shoot. But as more images become available, we won’t have to go out of our way to find diversityit will just be the standard, as it should be.

Posted by John on 12 July 2019